Virgil Abloh, Louis Vuittons leading designer, has died of cancer. He was 41. Abloh’s death was announced Sunday by the luxury group LVMH (Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy) and Abloh’s own Off-White label, which he founded in 2013. Abloh was the artistic director for Louis Vuitton’s menswear. Abloh was diagnosed two years ago with cardiac angiosarcoma, a rare form of cancer in which a tumor occurs in the heart.
In 2018, Abloh became the first Black artistic director of men’s wear at Louis Vuitton in the French design house’s storied history. A first generation Ghanaian American whose seamstress mother taught him to sew, Abloh had no formal fashion training but had a degree in engineering and a master’s in architecture. The son of Ghanaian immigrants, Abloh was discovered in part as a result of getting his T-shirt designs printed in a Chicago shop and his collaboration with fellow Chicagoan Kanye West. For Nike, he created Serena Williams’ 2018 U.S. Open dress.
“For over two years, Virgil valiantly battled a rare, aggressive form of cancer, cardiac angiosarcoma,” his family shared in a statement via Instagram on Sunday. “He chose to endure his battle privately since his diagnosis in 2019, undergoing numerous challenging treatments, all while helming several significant institutions that span fashion, art and culture.” He is survived by his wife, Shannon Abloh, children Lowe and Grey Abloh, sister Edwina Abloh, and parents Nee and Eunice Abloh.
“In loving memory of Virgil Abloh, the creative director of Donda,” Kanye West wrote on his website for the Sunday Service live stream, which was broadcast hours after the designer’s death. Beyoncé commenting her condolences, “It is with great sadness that I send my condolences and love to the Abloh family and his friends. We will forever honor you, Virgil. Thank you for inspiring an entire generation.”